Exploring Spain’s world of sports
By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.
LLORET de MAR, GIRONA, SPAIN — I arrived here last May 30 after a long 14-hour flight from Clark International Airport to Barcelona International Airport (excluding the 3-hour Hong Kong layover). I had planned on traveling to this country because according to my relatives (father side) from Santa Maria and Guadalupe, California, that our great grand folks were originally from this country. They said our great grandparents migrated to Burgos, Mexico, and bore a child named Felipe Garcia who married Mexican lass Severiana Rivera. My grandparents Felipe and Severiana luckily managed to migrate to Pharr, Texas, the hard way. The rest was history.
Firstly, I was amazed by the atmosphere and ambiance of the towns and cities that we passed from Barcelona International Airport to this place including NBA player Ricky Rubio’s town called Manou. This country also already produced NBA superstars like the siblings Pau and Marc Gasol, and Rudy Fernandez who represented Spain in the London and Rio Olympic Games (2012 and 2016).
I’m being accommodated by my cycling protégé and town mate (Mangaldan) Alex Moulic Lopez and family formerly from Brgy. Guesang. Alex Lopez is the 1987 Jakarta SEA Games gold medalist in the 100 kilometers team-time-trial event together with provincemate Esteban Dacayo of San Fabian and four Manileños Domingo Villanueva, Norberto Oconner, Danilo Redimano and Venchito Pamplina.
During our bonding time along the beautiful seashore white-orange sun of LLORET de MAR, Alex said the number two favorite sport of this country is cycling, after football. Yes, he was absolutely correct. This country already produced a lot of Tour de France, Tour of Italy, Tour of Spain champions led by five-time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain, Alberto Contador, Carlos Sastre, Samuel Sanchez, Pedro Delgado, Luis Ocaña, Federico Bahamontes, among others. They made this country famous in the field of world sports.
The 6’3” Indurain, the five times consecutive Tour de France titlist(1991,1992,1993,1994,1995), gold medalist 1995 Elite time trial World Champion, and 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games gold medalist is now a candidate to the world cycling Hall of Fame. According to Alex, basketball here is still not as popular despite having produced numerous NBA players. It could be on the top five, but not as popular as football and cycling.
In boxing, I still remember during my cycling days that a Spanish boxer named Alfredo Evangelista fought the world’s most famous boxer Muhammad Ali in Maryland, USA, and lost via a 15–round unanimous decision.
In football, this country produced some famous football players like Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Xabi Alonso, David Villa, Iker Casillas, to name some. In long-distance running, Abel Anton Rodrigo is one of the best Spanish long-distance foot racer being the gold medalist, 1997 and 1999 World Championship.
But I believe the greatest Spanish lawn tennis player is Rafael Nadal who established an unsurpassed ten French Open titles, two Wimbledon diadems, three US Open crowns, one Australian Open tiara, 2008 Beijing Olympic men’s singles gold medal and the 2016 Rio Olympic men’s double gold medalist.
These are all that I know regarding Spain’s sports world of accomplishments. I have to explore more, particularly the monumental and memorable 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games Stadium with Alex. Remember, the 1992 Olympics was the first of the two Olympics that my first child Jazzy participated in. Memorable because the 1992 games featured the first US basketball dream team headed by Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, among others.
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” MATHEW 7:14
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